How to Hold a Bow and Arrow (The Complete Guide) (2023)

Archery is a very enjoyable hobby that is accessible to everyone. If you're a beginner, there are countless things to consider before picking up a bow for the first time. Understandably, your first question will be how you hold the bow.

What is the correct bow grip? How to draw the bow Are there any other rules for lefties? So many questions come to mind on this topic, so let us answer them all. Read on and you'll soon know how to hold a bow for the first time.

Beginning Archer's Guide to Holding a Bow and Arrow

Before youtake archery lessons, the idea of ​​this hobby can be intimidating. However, this is only because you see people shooting arrows in a line, and it can be quite scary.

Realistically, it's not that intimidating at all. Like any other sport or hobby, it just takes a little practice to get started. Once you get familiar with things like the string and bow grip, things get a lot easier.

Don't worry, we'll cover everything in this guide. The basic steps that a beginning archer should know include:

  • The correct posture before shooting
  • How to catch an arrow
  • Understand which bow arm you have
  • Learn to hold the bow well yourself
  • Know how to grasp the bowstring
  • Place the arrow on the arrow rest
  • arrow butt
  • Pull back your bowstring

That's basically it, and we'll also cover some of the most common mistakes when handling arrows or picking up the bow. In the next section, you'll see a more detailed overview of the key steps to using a bow and arrow correctly for the first time in your life!

How to properly hold a bow and arrow

Before you do anything else, you should know which hand you're holding the bow with.

Now this may sound counterintuitive, but your dominant hand is not the hand that is holding the bow. Instead, you will hold it on the opposite side. So if you are right handed, hold the bow in your left hand. If you are left handed, the bow goes in the right hand.

To further confuse things, you'll see many bows labeled left-handed bows or right-handed bows. Contrary to what you might think, a left-handed bow is held in the right hand while a right-handed bow is held in the left hand.

Also, your dominant eye also comes into consideration. Your dominant eye is the eye with which you see best. Is veryimportant for archerybecause you have one eye on the goal. Find out how it can affect the bow you choose.

(Video) You're Doing It Wrong: How to Shoot an Arrow

For example, if you are right-handed but your left eye is your dominant eye, you should choose a right-handed bow. But if you are left-handed and right-handed, you are crossover and you should go for a left-handed bow. Similarly, people who are left-handed but right-eye dominant require a right-handed bow.

Once you find out if you needa bow for right or left handed, you can start with the following steps:

Assume a proper posture

Each archer has his own preferences regarding the position he adopts when shooting. However, new archers only need to worry about these three options:

  • square stance
  • closed stance
  • open attitude

In most cases, you should start with a square stance as this is the most balanced option. Of course, it all comes down to personal preference, so move around, adjust your feet, and find a stance that gives you the most stability and comfort.

Keep arm at 20-30 degrees

The next step is to raise your arch. Here you take your non-dominant hand and place it vertically on the ground.

Next, you should rotate your non-dominant hand until your arm is at a 20-30 degree angle. At this point, focus on relaxing all your fingers.

Now you can pick up the bow and hold it in that position at that angle.

Hold the bow by the handle.

For the third step, you should support the handle of the bow in your hand. you can find the handleon the climber, and should fit between your thumb and forefinger.

It is very important to keep the hand relaxed at this point in order to naturally form a pocket in the palm. Gently wrap your fingers around the loop as you fit into this bag.

Release grip on bow

A relaxed grip is extremely important for any archer. Take hold of the hand with the bow and make sure that all your fingers are comfortable and relaxed as you hold the bow.

(Video) How To: SHOOT A TRADITIONAL BOW & ARROW For The First Time {Beginners Guide}

One thing to aim for is to have your index finger and thumb lightly rub together. Your other fingers should be lightly wrapped around the bow handle.

The more practice you get, the looser your grip will become, and that's a good thing.

Load arrow on pad

The arrow rest is the part of the hand on which the arrow rests. This is why hand position is so important and a loose grip is required. If the grip is too tight, too much torque will be generated, twisting the bow and causing ajerky flight.

Just draw your arrow, don't hold it by the fletching, and load it into the arrow rest. Move the arrow and you will hear it click into place.

Choose the right drawing technique

Now you can pull the bowstring. Of course, there are several techniques you can use to do this.

Traditionally they are the following:

  • pull fingers
  • pull pinch
  • thumb pull

Finger pulling uses two or three fingers to pull the bowstring back into place. In a traditional finger flip, the fingers are below the arrow. However, you can go for a Mediterranean draw, with one finger above the arrow and one or two fingers below.

Almost all archers use a finger drawn technique because it is so reliable.

Stretching with forceps is not recommended for archwires with apull weightover 10 pounds as it's just not good enough.

Alternatively, there is the thumb removal method. Typically used in Asia, this involves wrapping your thumb around the wire with your index finger on it. It's quite strange and complicated, so beginners shouldn't focus too much on it.

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So, decide on the finger grip and pull the string back until you feel the maximum tension and go no further. Here you have come to a complete bow draw.

Common Bow Grip Problems

The most common mistake with a bow grip is getting caught in what is known as a death grip.

What's that?

It is effective when the bow grip is too tight. This is bad for several reasons:

  • First, a death grip forces the muscles in the hand to clench and tense. This causes them to wobble, which means your bow is likely to wobble and twist in your hand due to excessive twisting. As such, your shots will be less accurate.
  • Second, a firm grip also means that the bow will continue to swing after the arrow is shot. Why is this a problem? Well, chances are the bowstring will break and hit your arm, causing painful injuries.

So you need to focus on getting the most relaxed grip possible. How can you do that

Start by raising your bow and practicing the grip. Make sure that your index finger and thumb are touching, but that all other fingers are loose and make little contact with the bow.

It may take some time to master, but focus on taking a deep breath in and out to relax the muscles in your hand as well. Eventually you will feel confident and relaxed enough to load an arrow.

Common Arrow Handling Problems

In addition to grip problems, you will have some problems with the handling of the arrows. Remember that you are handling the arrows with your dominant hand. If you don't, you're likely to run into all sorts of stability issues.

However, the main problems are the following:

Fingers gripping the bowstring too tightly

A firm grip on the bowstring prevents you from shooting in a straight line. This is similar to how your grip affects the bow itself: if it's too tight, the string will twist too much, which can change the arrow's trajectory.

(Video) Archery Beginner Guide: How to hold a compound bow

Once again, keep your grip as light as possible.

Too much draw weight on the bow

Try this simple training technique: Hold your arch fully stretched for 10 seconds.

Can you do this without shaking or feeling muscle fatigue? If not, the draw weight is simply too high. Adjust the draw weight of your bow to relieve tension and make it easier for you to keep your arrows in place at full draw.

Nock the arrow too deep

You needFind the tipping pointon your bowstring where the arrow is set in its place. You can do this with a square bow, or you can talk to an expert at an archery range.

The ideal height is one quarter to one half inch. A lower value will cause problems: the arrow will lack downforce, so it is likely to fall off the arrow rest.

grip the bow too tight

As we've mentioned many times before, gripping your bow too tightly is a big no-no.

When handling arrows, a tight bow grip means your bow can twist or wobble, making it easy for the arrow to fall off the rest.


In short, the first thing to do is figure out what bow you need. In general, your dominant hand dictates this: a right-handed bow is for left-dominant people, while a left-handed bow is for right-handed people. Then follow the steps assuming proper stance, holding your arm at a 20 to 30 degree angle, grasping the bow grip, keeping it relaxed, and loading the arrow in place.

Of course, if you want to start archery, you need all kinds of accessories to protect your equipment. Take a look at our rangeBogenkofferYarrow quiverto start.


What are the 6 archery shooting commands in order? ›

Six Basic Steps for Shooting
  • Assume the shooting position.
  • Nock the arrow.
  • Draw and anchor the bow.
  • Aim.
  • Release the string.
  • Follow through.

Which hand do you aim a bow with? ›

Ideally, archers aim with their dominant eye because it best relays locations. Choosing a bow is easy for archers whose dominant eye matches their dominant hand. If you're right-eye and right-hand dominant, buy a right-handed bow. Likewise, buy a left-hand bow if you're left-eye and left-hand dominant.

How do you know when to bow up or down? ›

Use down bows on the strong beats of 1 and 3 and up bows on beats 2 and 4. A new set of eight or sixteenth notes should begin on a down bow. 'Pick up' notes (a note leading into the beginning of a song or measure) should be played with an up bow, so you can begin the next measure on a down bow.

What are 3 rules of archery? ›

General Rules

Always keep your arrows pointed down or towards the target. Shoot only at your target. If you drop an arrow, leave it on the ground until you are told to get your arrows. Always walk in the archery range.

What do 3 whistle blasts mean in archery? ›

WHISTLE: THREE BLASTS VERBAL: “Walk forward and get your arrows,” Meaning: Archers have completed shooting. All archers have set their bows down and are standing behind the waiting line. They may now go forward to the target line and pull their arrows.

What is the key to archery? ›

To keep it simple, the bow should always be pointed at the target. This means before, during and after the shot. The follow-through should be straight at the target, and in no instance should it collapse to the right for a right-handed archer.

Should you tilt your bow? ›

Don't tilt your bow all the time.

It might be easier to get a smooth sound in the beginning, but you should also be able to bow smoothly with all the hair. Tilting your bow should be an effect that you execute consciously. It depends on the music you play and the sound you want to make.

How do you get strong enough to pull back a bow? ›

Pull-Ups. The latissimus dorsi is the upper body's largest muscle, and pull-ups are the best exercise to strengthen it. This muscle is used throughout the bow-drawing process, making it a critical component of increasing your draw weight. Most retail stores sell pull-up bars that conveniently mount inside a doorway.

How long can you hold a bow at full draw? ›

Muscle fatigue is very detrimental to your ability to hold steady while shooting. For that reason, many experts believe your shot process should be completed within 8 seconds from the time you draw your bow.

How far back should you draw a bow? ›

It's important to note that compound bows are designed to be shot only from the full-draw position - that is, with the bow drawn all the way back (until it stops). If a compound bow is set for a 29" draw length, for example, it should always be drawn back to a full 29" and then shot from that position.

Which fingers do archers use? ›

A quick note: As I mentioned above, most archers use a three-finger draw, aka "The Mediterranean Draw," where your index finger goes above the arrow, with your middle finger and ring finger placed below the arrow.

Is archery hard for kids? ›

Even for the most competitive child, there is always another goal, another challenge. So this is one sport that your child will not lose interest in due to lack of stimulation. And archery is not so difficult that even a newbie cannot pick up a bow and have a go.

Is archery safe for kids? ›

Most archery ranges require kids to take an intro class and a safety test before shooting at targets, and supervise them closely while they're shooting, so that's definitely the safest place for them.

What are the 5 modes of archery? ›

Other than that, there are five vidhis of archery referred to in Vana Parva by Indra when Arjuna visited heaven: discharge, withdrawal, re-discharge and re-withdrawal, and the Prayaschitta. These are the five modes of archery learned by Arjuna.

Can an 11 year old do archery? ›

By the time your children are between 10 and 13 years old, they are at the perfect age-window to develop a passion for archery – they are old enough to understand they need to be patient to learn and they are young enough learning comes easy to them.

What are the 6 parts of a bow? ›

Parts of a Bow
  • The Riser. The riser is the centre piece of the bow that the upper and lower limb attach to. ...
  • Limbs. The two limbs that attach to the riser are the upper and lower limb. ...
  • String Nock. At the tip of each limb is a groove called the string nock. ...
  • String. ...
  • Point. ...
  • Shaft. ...
  • Fletching. ...
  • Nock.
Jul 20, 2018

Which eye to close in archery? ›

Most bowhunters learn to shoot with one eye closed. They're often taught to close their nondominant eye and use the other to aim through the peep sight and focus on the target. Because this is the way most archers learn, they just continue this practice in the field. And it works well for most bowhunters.

Which eye is dominant? ›

According to All About Vision, population studies have shown that about 90 percent of people are right-handed and about 67 percent are right-eye dominant.

Should you look in eyes when bowing? ›

Remember to look down as you bow.

Maintaining eye contact while bowing is considered bad form—threatening, even—unless you are squared to fight an opponent in martial arts! Sometimes you may find yourself bowing more than once until someone finally relents and stops the ritual.

At what distance is a bow accurate? ›

Depending on the circumstances, the maximum distance is 30 to 40 yards. At that range, it's common for an arrow to pass completely through an animal. To ensure accuracy, most shots are taken at 15 yards.

Where should your head be while shooting a bow? ›

The position of the head should be towards the target but not perfectly square on as this can introduce tension, you should be able to see the target just to the side and slightly above the nose. You can use the picture of your nose and target to help you ensure that your head stays still during the shot.

What is the Robin Hood rule in archery? ›

Robin Hoods - if it sticks in the arrow or hits the arrow and falls out, and the arrow it hit can be determined it will score the value of the arrow it is stuck in or damaged. If the arrow deflects off another arrow then sticks in the target it will score the value of where it sticks in the target.

What is the 1st law of motion in archery? ›

Newton's 1st Law

When the arrow is loaded in the bow, it is not going to go anywhere unless you release it and spring force sends it forward. After it springs forward it will go forever until forces like air resistance, gravity, and normal force when it hits the target.

What is the number one safety rule in archery? ›

Only point the bow and arrow in a safe direction. Only nock an arrow when it's safe to shoot. Be sure of your target and what is in front of it, immediately behind it, and beyond it. Never shoot over a ridge.

How far is the waiting line in archery? ›

The waiting line is normally 5 yards from the shooting line; this distance may be reduced to 3 yards if the space available is restricted, but safety must not be jeopardised. Behind the waiting line space is needed for the archers' shooting equipment.

What is it called when you miss the bullseye in archery? ›

Hamartia. It's a Greek word, spelled in Greek this way: ἁμαρτία. It's also an archery term for when someone didn't hit the target or put more simply missing the mark.

What does 4 whistles mean in archery? ›


STOP,STOP,STOP. • After you have shot all your arrows, step back from the shooting line, set your bow on the rack, wait behind the waiting line; wait for the next whistle command. • When pulling your arrows, stand to the side of the target and remove one arrow at a time.

Is archery hard? ›

Is Archery Difficult? That depends on the level you are aiming for. Mastering the basic techniques of archery with beginner equipment is relatively easy. But reaching a competitive level of proficiency can take several years and requires a lot of practice and incremental improvements.

Is archery easy to master? ›

archery is fairly simple to learn, allowing you the ability to improve aim and skill over time.

Should you loosen your bow when not playing? ›

The first thing to keep in mind is that a tightened bow is far more likely to break under tension than when it is not, so always loosen it when not in use.

How many times a week should I shoot my bow? ›

Going to three to four days of practice every week will ensure that you build your physical stamina, as well as your mental stamina. Your arrow volume for each session will also have to go up slightly to ensure that you “have it in you” to finish a competition strong.

How many times should you shoot your bow? ›

If you want to be a “great” archer, someone that can put the arrow into the yellow all the time, you need to shoot 100-120 arrows per day 5 times a week. If you want to be a “champion” archer, someone who can put the arrow into the 10 most of the time, you need to shoot 5 times a week with at least 120 arrows per day.

Can I pull a 70 pound bow? ›

Every bow has a draw weight. Some compound bows can be adjusted over a 50-pound range, such as 15 to 65 pounds, while others offer a smaller range of poundage adjustment such as 10 pounds.. Every person has an ideal draw weight. Some archers easily pull 30 pounds, and others can pull over 70 pounds.

Is shooting a bow a good workout? ›

Archery is great physical exercise

Drawing a bow takes energy, burning calories and toning and strengthening muscles in your arms and back. Walking to the shooting line and then to the target to collect arrows also burns energy and means you'll get your steps in faster than you think.

Why can't I hold my bow steady? ›

Proper Draw Length

The wrong draw length can also result in your inability to hold your bow steady. Too short a draw length typically lends itself to shaky form at full draw. No guessing, assuming, or taking suggestions from a friend when it comes to draw length.

Why do I shake in archery? ›

Muscles shake from fatigue and while one's bowhand is supposed to be completely relaxed (or close to completely relaxed) when shooting, some have adopted an iron grip instead (lovingly called a “death grip” by archers). If your son is squeezing his bow hard, this can result in a great deal of fatigue quite rapidly.

Why is my bow so shaky? ›

In a nutshell: That unwanted shaking is caused by just three things when they are combined badly: Gravity, tension, and the “balance point” of your bow.

Why is my bow so bouncy? ›

Students tend to add too much weight when going from an up bow to a down bow, which makes the violin bow bounce. Imagine throwing a bouncy ball down on the ground. This is the same thing that happens when you add too much weight or you tense up when change directions.

Which hand do you hold a bow and arrow? ›

The dominant hand is used to draw the string of the bow while the opposite hand holds the bow stationary. RIGHT HAND - Right Handed bows are held in the left hand and drawn with the right hand. LEFT HAND - Left Handed bows are held in the right hand and drawn with the left hand.

Do you hold the bow or arrow with your dominant hand? ›

If you're right-eye and right-hand dominant, buy a right-handed bow. Likewise, buy a left-hand bow if you're left-eye and left-hand dominant. In both cases you'll aim with your dominant eye, draw the bow with your dominant hand, and grip the bow with your other hand.

How many fingers do you use on a bow? ›

In archery, drawing fingers refer to the three fingers (index, middle, and ring fingers) that are used to pull the bowstring back to shoot the arrow. The way the fingers are positioned on the string and the amount of pressure applied can greatly affect the accuracy and consistency of the shot.

What is the rule of thumb archery? ›

If a longbow is strung correctly, there's just enough space to fit your hand in the 'thumb's up' position between the string and the wood.

Why do my arrows curve? ›

In essence, the back of the arrow, which is the first to receive energy from the string, moves faster than the front. Unable to leave the bow immediately, the arrow starts to absorb some (a small amount) of that energy by bending, before it gets on its way to the target.

Should bow arm be straight or bent? ›

The elbow on your bow arm should point at an outward and slightly downward angle away from the bow. When correctly positioned, the bow arm's elbow has a slight bend. By correctly positioning the bow arm's elbow, the bow hand also positions itself properly, with the thumb at roughly a 45-degree angle.

Why am I left eye dominant but right-handed? ›

Research shows that eye dominance and handedness are associated, though not directly related. Someone who is right-handed is more likely to be right-eye dominant, but it is possible to be right-handed and left-eye dominant. Eye dominance can vary from person to person.

Do you hold a right hand bow with your left hand? ›

Your dominant hand is what determines your bow handedness. So if you're right-handed then you hold the bow with your left and draw with your right.


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